Senate Bill 790 returns to Pennsylvania Senate

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(WBRE/WYOU) — Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to work with the oil and gas drilling industry to come up with new regulations that would allow them to do business in a more environmentally friendly way.

Legislation has recently been jumping back and forth through the House and Senate because of one provision that would impact thousands of roads in northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 790 was recently amended and passed both chambers in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. It will now go back to the Senate where a local lawmaker voted no the first time around.

Oil and gas wastewater is currently prohibited from being dumped on dirt and gravel roads in the Keystone State. But the initial version of Senate Bill 790 would allow companies to dump wastewater on hundreds of backroads in northeastern and central Pennsylvania. That’s why a local senator voted no the first time around and is working towards a compromise

“We’re trying to work with the industry in Senate Bill 790 to come up with new regulations that would allow them to continue to do their business in the most environmentally conscious way,” said Senator John Yudichak, Senate District 14.

SB790 was recently amended and passed both chambers in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Senator Yudichak says the waste-water provision was taken off the bill in the House, but environmental groups and residents are concerned that it was even placed in the bill in the first place.

“The bill affects the dirt road that we live on and I understand it would put the oil and other chemicals applied to the road,” says Christmas tree farmer Richard Malak. “Close to the roads, some of the trees are yellowing which means they are being polluted by road runoff.”

There is significant support for the bill particularly in areas where oil and gas companies are prominent. But, there are many senators and environmental groups who will oppose it until it’s environmentally conscious.

“It is an improvement in taking the wastewater treatment provision out of the bill,” says Sen. Yudichak.

Residents like Malak say he will be keeping an eye on the future of this legislation.

“No one really knows the end result of the chemicals,” said Malak.

Next, the Senate will look at the amended version of SB790, and review changes made. They will then see if there are any further changes to be made to satisfy the concerns of environmental groups.

We should hear more about any progress made on Senate Bill 790 this spring.

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